Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook Parties-Fab or Fad?

Good May Day, Scribe’s fans. PJ Sharon here. I won’t likely be dancing around a May pole today, but I will be celebrating Spring with over fifty of my author pals from the Book Lovers Buffet who are having a party over on Facebook this afternoon.

POL Music Cover Every fifteen minutes between 3-10 pm, EST, another romance author will be available to live chat with anyone who wants to stop by for a visit. I’ll be there from 7-7:15 pm. sharing favorite cruise destinations and giving away e-books and an i-Tunes download of the single, PIECES of LOVE, the theme song from my upcoming release.

Lest you think this is a silly waste of time, there will be oodles of giveaways and some enticing questions to draw a crowd throughout the day. Favorite paranormal creatures? Vacation destinations? Favorite perfume or men’s fragrance? Fashion, dance, Texas hunks…topics for everyone. There will be gift cards, e-books, audiobook giveaways and more!

So what’s with all the Facebook parties lately? Is it just the latest trend in author promotion? Or is it a savvy way to use the platform that so many of us have worked to build? Since connecting to readers is an all important part of our job as authors, hopping on the FB train seems like a good idea…at least for now. As with any new promotional trend, I suspect this one will burn itself out fairly quickly, but for now, I’m having fun with it and plan to use it for my book launch in June.

Here’s how it works (to the best of my knowledge and limited experience). To create a FB event:

  1. Click Events in the left menu of your homepage.
  2. Click Create Event in the top right.
  3. Fill in the event name, details, location and time, and then choose your privacy settings. Keep in mind that you must include an event name and time. (TIP: Keep the time limited to just a few hours if you are doing this on your own. It can be quite hectic and draining!)
  4. Click Invite Friends to add friends to the guest list. Check the names of the people you want to invite and then click Save.
  5. Click Create.

You’ll be taken to your event where you can share posts, upload photos, invite more guests, and edit event details.

That’s it!

Of course, you’ll want to create a theme for your party, upload a flashy new banner, offer incentives for people to stop by, create engaging content ahead of time so you can keep momentum going throughout the party, and maybe even have a famous guest or two stop by at a scheduled time so readers can pop in and live chat for a few minutes with your celebrity guest. You may want to enlist some help spreading the word via Twitter, Google+, Goodreads or other social media outlets.

Be creative and think outside the box. What do your readers love about your books? If you write cozy mysteries maybe share some recipes or craft ideas. If you write romantic suspense, maybe ask about favorite suspense movies, creepiest actors to play villains, etc. Consider your audience, make it fun and entertaining, and have some prizes to encourage reader engagement. Use Random.org to choose your winners. The way I use it for free is to keep a numbered list of commenters and then plug in the range of numbers (1-10 for instance if I have ten folks who have left comments) and let Random pick the winner’s number.

The bottom line, as always is that it’s not so much about “buy my book” as it is “hey, I’m a human just like you…let’s hang out.” Readers are much more likely to want to chat about books in general, life’s little entertainments, and what they can get for free than they are to respond to “buy” messages, so keep it real, keep it fun,  and keep it friendly.

I hope to see you all later over at the party!

What do you think of FB Parties? Fab or Fad?

Is it Tacky?

Hello there, Scribes fans. Sugar, here.

I’ve been published for almost a week now. And these past few days people kept asking me how I felt about it. Like they were expecting me to be irrevocably different just because I had a book on the shelves. I’m not sure how it is for other debut others, but I feel…. exactly the same. I still go to work and get teased by my brothers. I still write my thousand words a day and doubt every sentence that goes on the page.

The only other difference is that extra layer of worry that I carry around with me, that nobody is going to buy my book and if they do they are going to hate it. But other than that I’m still the same person I was a year ago. Just with a different set of worries.

And one of those worries is promotion related. How much is too much? We all know the “BUY MY BOOK” messages we see authors splash across their Twitter and Facebook accounts are annoying and not effective. Some might even call them tacky. I don’t think those writers spam us with those things to be annoying. I think they just want to attract more readers to their books and as writers we all want that.

But how do we do it?

I keep asking that question and nobody seems to have the answer to it. I’ve heard blogging is dead and that Facebook is passe and that tweeting is like screaming into the wind. I heard people say that ads on websites are like white noise and that most people don’t notice them because they are inundated with so many.

So what’s left?

Street teams? A street team, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is basically a group or team of people who hit the “streets” to promote something. For authors a street team might hand out books marks, request that your book be carried in store and leave good reviews for the author on Amazon and other sites, talk to your book up to anybody who will listen and a variety of other things. In return these dedicated fans get swag or free books and the author’s many thanks.

I personally hold all judgement on Street Teams. They seem to work beautifully for some authors. But lately I’ve been seeing a few authors bash them. One author I follow is of the mindset that it’s the author’s job to promote their book and it’s wrong to ask fans to do it for them. That readers should only leave reviews if they want to. They should only recommend books that are truly worth recommending, not because they are loyal to the author. And that word of mouth should spread naturally.

I think it’s an interesting position to take. Doctor’s don’t ask for reviews, and neither do hairstylist, restaurants or teachers. Could you imagine if after a meal your waiter asked you to immediately go home and get on Yelp and rate his performance and the food that evening and tell everyone you met about how great their restaurant was? Wouldn’t you be a little taken aback if that happened?

People do leave reviews for restaurants and hairstylist and even doctors nowadays but only because they want to not because they are asked.

But on the flip side of that argument. Nobody is forcing anybody to join these teams. People do it because they want to support an author and in the end is that really such a bad thing?

I do think there is a certain etiquette a writer must have when conducting themselves. But what is it? There are no written rules.

So I have some questions I hope you can all help me answer about what is tacky and what isn’t.

This week I have gotten six emails (from strangers!) telling me how much they loved my book and can’t wait to read more of my work. Would it be tacky to ask them to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter or leave their reviews on Amazon?

Is it tacky to email a blog that you have never commented on and don’t regularly visit and ask to be featured there? (Having a blog tour set up for you is a different story.)  Isn’t it like inviting yourself to a party?

Is it tacky to ask your friends to pimp your book on their Facebook pages? I have wonderful friends who did this for me without asking. And I have never been asked to do it myself. But if I enjoy a book or simply like an author I will.

Is it tacky to curse of social media? I don’t know if you know this, but elementary school teachers curse more than anybody else on the planet. Simply because we have to keep it together all day and be positive role models for small children. Sometimes I find really funny someecards that I want to post on my fan page that have the bad words in them, but I don’t because I’m trying to keep it classy, even though I’m a little bit trashy.

Are naked man pictures tacky? If cursing is taboo then why isn’t man butt? I’ve seen some authors post pictures that are just shy of soft core porn. Would we stand for it if a male author were posting pictures of nearly nude women everyday?

Keep in mind I pass no judgement on any of these things. I’m simply wondering what folks find tacky these days? Please share your thoughts with me.

Updating Your Web Presence

As you read today’s post, I’m probably on a flight to Atlanta to attend the National RWA Conference this week. I know, I know…we’ve all been buzzing about it for the past several days, but the event is a big deal for writers. And this year should be especially fun since most of our Scribes will be in attendance.

Katy Lee, Vivienne Lynge, and Suzanna Hardy
Katy Lee, Vivienne Lynge, and Suzanna Hardy

PJ here, 30,000 feet up, and there’s something else I think is kind of a big deal.

Have you ever checked out an author’s website and found it terribly out of date? Most of us try to stay current, but with all of the responsibilities of today’s writers, keeping track of what needs updating can be pretty overwhelming. So I thought I would give you a list of sites that I go to periodically to make sure I do my updates, particularly after a new release or a big event (like a conference or a contest award). The links I’ve included below will take you to the site’s information page that will explain what you as an author can do to sell and promote yourself and your books on these venues (except for the ABOUT page, which is mine). If you keep the list handy, it’s really not so bad doing the occasional update. If you have to remember them all, it can be a bit of a nightmare, so definitely create a list of your own with links to your author pages or places you’ve posted a bio.

Website and Blogs-This is an obvious one.  Websites should be updated at least monthly. If you keep a calendar of events, make sure you have correct links and dates posted. And don’t forget to update your ABOUT page. You are constantly evolving as a writer and author, so be sure to share those changes with your readers.

Amazon Author CentralAlthough the benefits of even having an Author Central page are questionable, most of us who have books there are encouraged to create a page. It’s a place where you can list your books, book trailers, upcoming events, and connect your readers to your recent blogs and social media communications. If someone is checking out one of your books, they might want to know more about you. You can also use this as a landing page for your readers to direct them to all of your books available on Amazon, rather than the individual buy link pages.

GoodreadsYour Goodreads page is an important place for readers to connect with you. Here, you can do book giveaways, get onto listopias, and see your reviews. I’m still learning about Goodreads, but so far, I can see huge benefits in keeping current there so that readers can find and share your books with others. You can also join groups, be exposed to book clubs, and again, have your blogs, tweets, and other social media connections available all in one place.

BN (now NOOK Press) and Smashwords Author Pages-Don’t forget to update any other places you distribute your books. In addition to BN and Smashwords, you may want to create author pages for Kobo, Apple i-Tunes, Draft2Digital, or All Romance E-books (ARe). These are all sites where you can upload your self-pubbed titles and sell books! But just realize that for each distribution channel you choose, you’ll have more to manage. If you have a good system, it’s not so bad.

Pinterest, twitter, and FB profile pages-The main thing here is to change up your bio once in a while. Use the cover of your current or upcoming release as your profile picture, and if you have a “READ MY BOOKS” link on your FB page (check out “author app” for FB), make sure your books, descriptions, and prices are updated.

I realize this is a lot of housekeeping and busy work, and might be best left to a teenager in your house to do for a nominal fee, but it’s important to stay current so that readers can find you wherever you may be. Speaking of keeping you all updated, don’t forget to follow our tweets at RWA National by using hashtag #RWA13 or #RWA2013. You can connect with me on twitter @pjsharon or “like” me on Facebook at PJ Sharon Books for pictures and posts about what craziness is happening at the conference.

Have I missed any locations that you routinely find yourself updating? Any questions comments, or hair-pulling and screaming…now’s your chance!

Gearing up for NaNo

I’ve heard about NaNo-WriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for a few years and have never officially participated for one reason or another. But this year, I’m all in. NaNo-WriMo is an organized national event where writers find support and camaraderie in their commitment to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Conceivably, this could mean someone would be able to complete a first draft of a full length novel in thirty days. Just ask our very own Casey Wyatt, who completed a manuscript last year which then became published!

 When broken down into a daily word-count, it means writing about 1660 words per day—a very doable task for determined and self-disciplined writers. For me, that’s about a chapter a day or five to six pages. But one of the reasons I haven’t participated in the past is that…and don’t tell anyone…I don’t write every day. That’s right; sometimes days go by and I haven’t written a word. Life, work, and family might require my undivided attention, or maybe I’m processing my plot, dialogue, or how my next scene will move the story forward. Other days, I may write for six or eight hours, producing as many as twenty pages or two or three chapters. Up until recently, I wasn’t even paying very close attention to my word count. I gave myself a certain number of months to write my first draft and figured out how many pages a week I needed to write, but never felt the need to focus on the actual word count. 

That is until Susannah Hardy challenged the CTRWA members to start doing “sprints” on FaceBook. A sprint is when a bunch of people agree to spend a few hours at night writing their little hearts out to make a predetermined word-count goal. Ironically, the average writer is able to put out a thousand or fifteen hundred words in that period of time. Some more and some less, but the actual goal isn’t important. The sprints (and NaNo-WriMo) are successful because it gets everyone working toward their individual goal and is a way for this isolated work to feel much less lonely. It also holds us accountable to a group of people (nothing like peer pressure or the threat of public humiliation to get the muse musing). A little competition and some recognition for a job well done can’t hurt. Not to mention that you may just write the novel of your heart in a mere month—something that takes some writers a lifetime to accomplish. I figure I have nothing to lose by trying. Even if I don’t finish, I’ll be a heck of a lot further along than if I hadn’t tried.

This is where I’ll be in November

Here’s my challenge to myself. (I’ll share it with all of you since I’m highly motivated by accountability and the threat of public humiliation.) I’ve recently started my new work in progress (WIP), Book Two in The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. Since the book is set to finish at about 70,000 words, I figure I’ll get a jump on NaNo-WriMo and try to have 20,000 words written by November 1st so I can plan for the other 50k and finish my first draft in a month. I’ve only managed a sixty-thousand words in six weeks pace one other time and that was when I wrote Savage Cinderella back in 2009. I may still not be able to write every day during November, but I’ll set my weekly goal for 10-12,000 words which is about 30-40 pages a week. That’s a pretty aggressive pace, but with the help and support of my writing family, I’m going to give it my best shot.

How about you? Are you going to participate in NaNo? Do you have a daily word-count goal? Do you write daily or have a weekly page count? I’m curious.

E-mail overload…or etiquette?

It’s a lovely Tuesday here in the Berkshires with a billion leaves in full splendor. They’re turning and falling far too quickly, however. I spent the weekend in Vermont with family—a much needed break from my writing routine before jumping into Book Two of The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, called WESTERN DESERT. I would have liked to spend every minute enjoying the company and truly getting away from my work, but the truth is, I brought my computer and sacrificed some time with my siblings and the falling leaves to answer e-mails and stay on top of my blog tour. If I hadn’t, I would have come home today to a thousand e-mails and a to-do list that would take me into the wee hours of the morning to catch up on. You think I’m exaggerating? Let’s take a look…

I belong to several writer’s loops, without which I would not be where I am, or be able to do what I do. I love my writing buddies! There is no doubt that networking is essential to this business and that none of us can do it all alone. As part of various writing loops, I have a certain responsibility to participate, reciprocate, and respond helpfully whenever possible. In these digital days, it’s easier than ever to connect with peers, find support, and work together to help each other succeed. I’m happy to do it, and I budget a considerable amount of time to keeping current—a worthwhile investment, in my opinion.

Some of these loops have strict rules about promotion and participation etiquette. Certain days are allotted for such things as “liking” FB pages, Amazon Author pages, and adding “likes” and “tags” to books. Some groups have no promo or only promo on certain days. Other loops allow promotion of blog appearances and will help “tweet” the word. There are groups that are for information only, and I love them for the invaluable industry scoop that everyone shares. The moderators who keep these groups on task and call us out when we go astray are amazing—giving freely of their time to make this all possible and keep some semblance of order to the chaos. As much of a rebel as I can be, I am happy for the rules because with so many participants (over a thousand in some groups), it can become a bit…well…unruly. 

Although the rules are slightly different for each group, there are some common etiquette tips that are good to know and sometimes ignored due to the fact that we are all insanely busy, and we often drop a few of the many balls we are juggling. I know I do. This post came about because of a few of my unintentional faux pas. Here’s my list of etiquette guidelines that I try to follow, but that have slipped through my fingers more than once. Lord knows that if we could all follow these tips it would certainly save me, personally, about half of the 400 e-mails a day that I have to go through to find the 100 I need to pay attention to. I’d bet I’m not the only one.

1) Trim your posts– This means that you keep enough of the previous poster’s message to give the gist of the content, but trim or delete anything that isn’t pertinent. People on “digest” have to search through every lengthy posting before they get to the final message. This is one of the reasons I’m not on digest. I would be tempted to delete threads without looking at them at all, and would miss a lot of important information. Therefore, I continue to receive individual e-mails.

2) Respond privately to CONGRATULATE, or otherwise personally support another writer. I know we all get excited when someone signs a contract, has a new release, or celebrates an amazing milestone, but I’m sure I’m not alone in my e-mail overload plight where thirty responses to congratulate someone come blasting through my Outlook in-box…ten times a day. I’ve got my e-mail set up so I can get a glimpse of the subject and weed through comments quickly, but multiply the thirty by five different loops, thousands of daily participants, and lots of amazing successes flying through our groups, and it becomes a tad overwhelming. So instead of hitting “reply,” look at the bottom of the page and click on “reply to sender” whenever possible. This is not a hard and fast rule and some people might not agree, perhaps thinking that “congrats” are meant to be shared with the group, but I think public encouragement ends up being more about the sender than the receiver–intentionally, or unintentionally. I’d love to hear the argument for and against this.

3) Check your links-My bad! I did this today. I was at my brother’s, on vacation, and obviously distracted. I requested some “tweet” love from some of my writing loops and figured out about twenty minutes later that I had put an incorrect link in the tweet. Tell me this hasn’t happened to you? Six of my very busy writer pals had graciously tweeted my incorrect link to a few thousand of their followers before I went back and made the correction. Efficient, aren’t they? It’s a waste of their time and makes it appear that I am unprofessional, and therefore reflects poorly on them as well. As a courtesy, I will do my best to check my links in the future before I send information out to my groups. Accept my apologies, gang. 

4) Saying “Thank you”- This one is tricky. Do we say “thanks” to every individual who tweets or re-tweets one of our messages? Should we do it publicly or privately? Do we thank every person who “shares” our FB posts? Is it okay to just respond to the group as a whole or is it clogging up the loops to do so? This one is tough and I’d love to hear what you all think about what the proper etiquette is to show appreciation for all that our writer buddies do for us without clogging the loops and over-running everyone with e-mails saying “thanks” or “congratulations?” One idea that a friend on one of my loops had was that re-tweeting or sharing one of their posts was a good way to thank someone. I tend to agree. 
What do you think? Any other etiquette tips you’d like to share? How many e-mails do you get in a day, and how do you manage them?